Saturday, June 11, 2016

#MentalHealth Myth Five: Just take medication

Experience gained from my 30+ years practice in cognitive-behavioral psychology shows that, when given the right tools, people readily learn to elevate and maintain emotional health and happiness.

At the Think Right Feel Right Blogoscope you will find the behavioral tools and techniques that help to ward off #anxiety, depression and addiction.  You will learn about ways to defeat troubling emotions such as anger, worry and sadness.  You will also find practical #self-help strategies for increasing self-esteem, positivity and for being a happier you. 

Myths and misunderstandings about  mental health and emotional well-being abound.  We think we can change, or we doubt real change is possible. We hear that #happiness is attainable; then we hear that it is limited by our "setpoint." 

We are told that mental health may be largely genetic and are left thinking that our emotions and behavior patterns are indelible patterns, like fixed personality traits.  We burden ourselves with the shame that these problems are somehow our fault.  We are embarrassed by emotional problems and avoid talking about them.  

If we have "issues," we see ourselves as being different from others. We try to fix ourselves with talk therapy.  We go the medication route.  Or we ignore emotional problems and our cup rarely gets above half full.  Change is too difficult, too little, impossible.  Just give me some drugs.  No medication for me thank you, medication only hides the problem.

We pay a big price because of the myths and misconceptions about happiness and emotional health.  Those who are willing to search for greater fulfillment often expend considerable time and money on the journey.  Too often, their journey is long, the road signs vague, and success limited.  Others avoid the journey altogether, staying stuck in their struggles over a lifetime. We can indeed learn how to possess good mental health, but first we must cut through the jumble of misconceptions that stand in the way.

#MentalHealth Myth Five: Just take medication.  Medication may help, but we really do need to take a careful look before we leap.  As noted in the previous blog, there is a lot more to good mental health that medication can not and will not ever fix.  

To be mentally well, we must have or acquire essential behavioral skills that engender mental health.  These skills include the ability to regulate thought and emotion, to maintain self-esteem and self-care, to promote positive mood states, and to sustain these and other adaptive behaviors over time.  The capacity to limit emotional distress, attentiveness to self-nurturance, heightened resilience and increased well-being are key indicators of good mental health. 

Pills may relieve certain symptoms, but they won't educate us. Medication will never give us the skills we need to attain good emotional health. This is precisely why current trends in healthcare, trends that promote and over rely on pharmacological and symptom-focused interventions as their fix for mental health problems, so frequently miss their mark.  

We need better answers. We need answers that fundamentally improve our ability to be healthier and happier, not ones that may only mask our problems.  In this regard, making cutting-edge, evidence-based instruction on mental health and wellness part of the regular curriculum in our schools would be a huge step forward.  For more on these topics, be sure to follow #ThinkRightFeelRight

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